Live with Kelly and Mark

‘Live With Kelly & Mark’ Retains Strong Daytime Audience As Consuelos Celebrates Co-Hosting Anniversary

If someone had told Consuelos and Ripa one year ago they’d consider themselves a co-hosting match made in heaven, they likely wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, Ripa admits she was “staunchly against” the idea of having her husband by her side each morning on air.

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“I just felt like we’re not that interesting, and we’re not a very controversial couple. We don’t really get up to much. I always liken us to watching paint dry,” she said.

But, eventually, she was convinced. After all, Consuelos had already guest co-hosted with her about 100 times over the years, and it had always worked well. So they decided to give it a try.

Now, Ripa is glad to say she was wrong. While the pair were apprehensive, audiences were not. It quickly became clear that something about the two of them on screen every morning clicked with Live viewers.

At a time when daytime talk shows are on a relative decline in viewership Live seems to have found the secret sauce to retaining its audience. This season, it is one of just two syndicated talk shows to improve on its average total viewership from the previous year.

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“I do think that there is something very possibly relatable about our relationship. We have disagreements like a normal couple, and we’re not afraid to let them unfold on the air and in front of America, and I think people find a lot of themselves in that,” Ripa says, reflecting on how she’s changed her mind over the last year.

Executive producer Michael Gelman, who has been with the show since its inception in 1988, agrees.

“Together Kelly and Mark deliver that rare authenticity that viewers crave,” he said in a statement to Deadline. “This past year has been so much fun for the entire Live family – with a lot of laughs both on and off camera. It’s been fantastic watching their real-life dynamic thrive on the show.”

Live remained the No. 1 entertainment talk show on television over the past year, growing 3% in average total viewers to 2.23M per episode. According to Nielsen data, the show has been the most-watched syndicated talk show in every week since Ripa and Consuelos teamed up.

In the current season to-date, which spans from September through March, Live is up 3% in total viewers versus the previous season to 2.3M viewers per episode. It is also matching its previous household rating of 1.59.

Live has been especially popular among two key demos — women 18 to 49 and women 25 to 54. It is the most-watched daytime talk show in the last year in those two demos, scoring a 0.31 and a 0.52, respectively, among those age groups.

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“It has been a phenomenal year at Live with Kelly and Mark together as co-hosts,” Debra OConnell, President News Group and Networks, Disney Entertainment Television said in a statement to Deadline. “We could not be more thrilled with how Mark has seamlessly joined the show family as permanent co-host. His undeniable charisma and his and Kelly’s natural chemistry are evident as they deliver the laughs and smiles to our viewers each morning. We are incredibly proud of how Live has continued to evolve and that the audience is responding so enthusiastically.”

The ratings are just one of the things that clued Ripa and Consuelos in on the fact that the viewers might be taking a liking to the new co-hosting arrangement.

Perhaps more telling was the moment on their recent vacation when a viewer stopped Consuelos to play “Stump Mark,” an on-air segment where guests try to ask questions that Consuelos won’t know the answer to.

“This lady stopped me on the hike. She goes, ‘I want to stump you. I can stump you.’ We stopped and she gave me two statements, one true, one false. She really did stump me,” he recalled. (Ripa says she still owes that fan a prize).

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Consuelos thinks it took him a full six months to settle into the role, but Ripa disagrees, saying “it took me eight years to get to where he got in two weeks in terms of ability to do this show by himself.”

Surely it helps to have a daytime talk show veteran like Ripa by his side, right? Actually, Ripa reveals that she’s only given Consuelos one simple piece of advice over the last year, which she thinks he’s gotten the hang of quite nicely.

“[She said] don’t be afraid to voice those opinions. I think that’s something that they’ve been attracted to,” he said. “I know we have a predominantly female audience, but I’m not afraid to talk about sports. I love of sports on the show. And Newsflash, women love sports as well.”

If you ask Ripa, Consuelos’ boldness on air goes far beyond his willingness to talk sports to a female audience.

“I find Mark utterly compelling, really interesting, super funny, and he’s bold in a way like nobody else. He says what’s on his mind. If he’s thinking it, he says it,” she tells Deadline. “I’ve done this a long time and oftentimes people will adjust their natural personalities to pander to what they think the audience wants to hear, and Mark will tell people what he thinks, and he doesn’t care if it’s not a popular opinion. It gives him an edginess that I think is really missing in the landscape today. Everybody’s so afraid to say anything, and Mark is unafraid to say exactly what he’s thinking.”

With a year under their belts (and their minds completely changed about being full-time co-workers), Ripa and Consuelos say they’re ready to spend another year on air together.

And while Ripa speaks most highly of her husband, Consuelos does have a few things he’s aiming to improve upon in his second year as co-host.

“I’d like to get better at my interviewing skills. I’d like to get better at reading a teleprompter…I think I’m getting better at throwing to commercial,” he laughs, adding: “The other day in the middle of the show as we go to commercial, my sign off was ‘See you guys around.’ I mean, the show wasn’t over. The most obvious thing to say would be, ‘We’ll be back right after this.’ But I just said, ‘See you around.’ So we went to commercial and one of the producers [goes], ‘What was that?’ I don’t know…So for the next few sign offs, as a joke, I’d say ‘See you around.’ We got a kick out of it.”

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